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Full text of "My Country And My People"

EPILOGUE                             339

have they run against a social background too powerful and
all-pervading for human reform, temporized, become frustrated
and given themselves up for lost, unhappy souls, like the beauty
in Po Chuyi's song who became a shopkeeper's wife in middle
age? Then I realize that perhaps the other minority were
lucky, that they were indeed those God loved who died young
and left a good name. Yet history seems to deny this accept-
ance: history reveals and the Confucian theory of imitation
affirms that in times of national crisis it is the great men who
change the destiny of a nation. But then I remember that in
the Chinese wheel of success, many great men have been
ground small. It would be easy to blame the system or the
collapse of a system, and not the men. It would be easy to
expound with a materialistic dialectic the logical outcome of
militarism. It would be easy to demonstrate that the militarists
are all good men, made victims of an unhappy environment,
forced by the logic of their position to tax the people and
strengthen themselves against their rivals, and exposed to a
temptation too much for any human being to resist. Yet I
remember how Japan passed through the same phase of
militarism, triumphantly led by a great man, Prince Ito. But
then, you may say, Japan is small, and one can lay the blame
to the size of our nation. Then I remember the example of
Russia, with the size of half a continent, and peopled with a
peasantry just as poor and illiterate as the Chinese people, and
a bourgeoisie just as indifferent and a gentry just as corrupt.
Yet there was vigour in those old bones, and Old Russia
shook off its old carcass and emerged the youngest child of the
family of nations, radiant with hope and energy* And I say,
Bah! with the materialistic dialectic! For if the times have
sinned against the great men in China, the great men have
sinned more against the times.

The search for causes always leads back to a search for
leadership, for courageous and honest leadership, for witi"
Confucius I believe that great men, by their example, can
change the whole morale of a nation, as Prince Ito did in
Japan* I remember how in 1926 the whole nation was set cm
fire by faith in the memory of a great leader, when a young
party seemed to have emerged to lead the nation out of chaos